Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a swipe at the Congress first family on Friday, triggering an ugly face-off with party leader Rahul Gandhi who mocked his "56 inch chest" claim.
Modi at a function in Jammu, obliquely referred to Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra as an embarrassment in comparison to finance minister Arun Jaitley, whose father-in-law, the late Girdhari Lal Dogra, was a Congress stalwart.
Modi was in Jammu for a whistle-stop visit to attend the centenary celebrations of Dogra, who was Jammu and Kashmir's finance minister for a record 27 years.
"I'm very sure that Girdhari Lalji's judgement of character was very sharp, it shows in his choice of son-in-law," the Prime Minister said in his address after going through a photo exhibition on the life of Dogra at Zorawar Singh auditorium of Jammu University.
He said Jaitley held on to his own political beliefs and never used his father-in-law's clout.
"Otherwise we all know what embarrassment sons-in-law have become for their in-laws nowadays," he said, taking a dig at Robert Vadra, although he didn't take his name.
Modi's veiled 'political damaads' comment on Sonia, Vadra
Shortly afterwards at a rally in Jaipur, Rahul launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister over the land acquisition bill, saying the PM’s ‘56-inch chest’ would soon reduce to a size of 5.6 inches.
“The farmers, Congress and people of India will turn the ‘56-inch chest’ into a 5.6-inch chest, you will see,” Gandhi said while addressing party workers . “We won’t give a single inch of land,” the Congress vice-president said.
The obvious reference was to Modi's famous claim at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh last year that a "56 inch chest" can solve problems faced by the country.
“Now that he has become the PM, why would he be concerned about farmers? He made several promises, but they were all empty ones,” Gandhi added. “I liked the film Lagaan. In the movie, the farmers were disunited, but then they got together and protested against tax,” he said.
The Congress leader also attacked the NDA government over recent allegations of its leaders being involved in corrupt practices. “It is a Lalit Modi government in Rajasthan, Vyapam government in MP, Munde government in Maharashtra,” he said.
“Like during the British Raj days, the remote control of the government in India was in London, the remote control of the Rajasthan government is in London," he said.
Rahul Gandhi says PM’s ‘56-inch chest’ will soon reduce to a size of 5.6 inches
The war of words then hit a further low with the BJP secretary Siddharth Nath Singh commenting that Rahul Gandhi "remains a baby in diapers".
"He has to grow out of diapers he is wearing. His remarks, behaviour remind us that he remains a baby in diapers," Singh said as he raked up the alleged scams during the Congress-led UPA rule and controversial land deals involving Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
Apparently referring to a Lalit Modi tweet, the BJP leader said Gandhi should also speak about the likely "deal of 500-600 crore involving your (Rahul Gandhi) mother's sister".
"Rahul Gandhi has spoken about land, remote control and also 56 inches. As I said he is a toddler and it is not nice to give advise to a toddler. But Congress is giving him big responsibility so let us offer him an unsolicited advice. You have a right to criticise us. But criticise us on facts."
"You should assume a more constructive role. You wasted 10 years. From 2G, Coalgate, 'damadji', you have now come down to 'istifa ji'," he said, referring to the opposition's demand for the resignation of some BJP leaders over their alleged roles in Vyapam scam and Lalit Modi scandal.
The RSS too joined issue with Rahul , saying the Congress leader should not use such "intemperate" language against the Prime Minister.